Roy C. Jones

4th Quarter Check List – Visit Your BIG Donors, Right Now!

Roy C. Jones, CFRE

It is not too late to identify your top 100 donors and visit them.  Share with your major donors the goals you have reached this year and then tell them what you expect next year will look like for your organization.  Tell them about the clients you serve, the people you help and the wonderful opportunities they have to make an impact. 

Most importantly, do not be afraid to tell them if you are in “the red” as you approach year end. Major donors are investors in your organization and want to know the real deal as it relates to the finances of the organization.  As a matter of fact, major donors expect to be “insiders”.  Most would truly be upset to find out that you were struggling to make ends meet at year-end without asking for their help.

If you are an executive director or president of a charity or not for profit group, do not fall into the trap of telling your BIG donors only the good news.   Don’t get me wrong there is a place for the “good news”… that is what your newsletter and annual report should do.  In addition, your website should be updated daily with the good news, great testimonies from those who have been help by your organizations.

However, in your meetings donors need to be TOLD THE TRUTH about your needs and the challenges you are facing.  You should boldly lay out the problems you are confronting and the cost to solve them.

The fact is that the one person you do not want to “put on a happy face” for is your major donor.  Major donors want to hear from their “friend” who is on the front lines fighting for their cause.  They want to know what your needs are.  They want to know the problems you face. They want you to be honest with them about what you really need and how fast you need it.  I am not saying your appeals and donor meeting need to be “doom and gloom” but I am saying that you must present needs, challenges and problems. 

Maybe 100 people is too many to do on your own… reach out to board members, senior staff and a few major donors who have done their part this year and ask for help.  Build a group of 10 people who will each commit to meet with ten donors before year’s end.  A “ten for ten” campaign could literally have a dramatic impact on your finances by December 31st.

Each major donor should be asked to make a year-end commitment.  One of my clients did this last year added $1 million to their bottom line in just the final quarter of the year!

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